Paying the Same Old Penalty of Being Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson


Pablo missed United’s last penalty almost a year ago

Apparently, Leeds United has played 49 league games, over a full season’s worth, without being awarded a penalty kick. And, apparently, the man who awarded that long-ago penalty kick (one Jeremy Simpson) is in charge of tomorrow’s meeting with Brentford at Elland Road – so maybe the odds on United completing an unwanted half-century of league games without being awarded a spot kick are not quite as hefty as we would otherwise suppose. But if Mr. Simpson DOES repeat the trick, pointing to the spot, don’t get too excited about the prospect of history repeating itself. When he awarded that last one, nearly a year ago, Pablo Hernandez missed it.

During this past year, however, the referees for our fixtures have not been entirely unemployed in terms of penalty awards. Despite their obvious reluctance to give our lads anything in response to opposition penalty area transgressions, it’s been a different story when it comes to our own 18 yard box. There, the “strictly impartial” officials have been comparatively eager to emit a shrill peep of their Acme Thunderer whistles, followed by the fickle finger of fate indicating that Leeds had conceded yet another penalty. It’s happened, so I’m given to understand, eight times since the last time we got a penalty. That’s eight for the opposition, and none for us. Call me biased, but it seems to me that the cause of fair play is not particularly well served by that record. And this is before we even get into the legitimacy of some of the decisions against United.

Take for example the penalty awarded to Stoke City in the opening league game of this season. I’ve been scratching my head over that one ever since. Having played the incident over and over, to the point where I’ve almost worn out my hard drive, I’m still clueless as to why it was given. Even the TV commentators seemed a little short of the enthusiasm with which they normally greet decisions against Leeds. They seemed bemused, and it’s my guess that they could see no more justification for the decision than I could. The relative lack of protest from United players was also curious, though this was possibly due to disciplinary guidelines laid down by new manager Marcello Bielsa. Still, having seen the clip literally hundreds of times, at normal speed and in slow motion, forwards and backwards and every which way except upside down and inside out, I’m no nearer to spotting the remotest justification for that penalty award.

Of course, that’s history now, just as with the other seven spot kicks conceded since Leeds last got the benefit of the referee’s whistle. If you’re not sure why it should still bother me so much – consider how the two sides of this penalty conundrum are so blatantly loaded against our beloved Whites. It really is difficult to escape a feeling that we’re on the wrong end of far too many dodgy calls. Apologists for the men in the middle will argue that – warning, here comes a cliché – “these things even themselves out over the course of a season”. But they patently don’t, and there are ample statistics to prove that they don’t. As someone who sat in tears of frustration and rage when Leeds were denied two stonewall penalties in the 1975 European Cup Final, of course I’m still bothered by such injustice.

I won’t get my hopes up for a Leeds penalty tomorrow, especially as we’d probably miss it anyway. I fully expect the 50th game to go by without an award, and we may well continue on and on, unrewarded and unawarded, heading towards the century mark. Already, the penalty-less run has reached ridiculous proportions, I’m confident that no other club in the Football League has to look back anything like as far into history for their last spot kick. But that’s simply how life is for Leeds, and has been for much longer than I can remember. Luckily, we seem to be doing alright at the moment, even without getting the breaks, which in its own way is the sweetest path to success and making all our dreams come true. Perhaps, after all, we should collectively grit our teeth and just be grateful for small mercies.


21 responses to “Paying the Same Old Penalty of Being Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

  1. You sound a bit embittered Rob, let us bask in the prospect of going into the 2nd international break of season top of league. Let’s not look for negatives when we’ve been fed a constant diet of them for the last 10 years. We don’t need penalties to beat teams, Marcelo Bielsa, he sits where he wants. Peace x


  2. Ken Jarvis

    Funny Rob,

    if the referee fails to award Leeds a penalty for a blantant hand ball in tomorrow’s game, do you think the Sky Sports commentators will be highlighting the fact we have gone 49 games without one????

    They’ll spurt out useless stats throughout the game but will they blantantly ignore mentioning that disgraceful statistic?????

    Pity the club doesn’t write to the FL asking why referees ignore giving Leeds blantant penalties while oppenents get soft ones like the Stoke City one you mentioned above.

    Remember the soft penalty Boro got last season when Ayling was originally thrown to the ground and the linesman somehow missed that when he was looking straight across the box??

    I think VAR is the only solution for Leeds United, where hopefully, this will end the history of shocking refereeing decisions that have haunted/plagued our great club for far too long


    • True. But I doubt VAR will ever be adopted as standard – because it would end any hope of man u resuming a dominance that was built of the intimidation of refs and constant dodgy decisions in their favour.


  3. All in all Rob, despite the lack of penalties I think we have surpassed ourselves. Crippled key players out and a distinct lack of that killer finish and yet top of the league. Total transformation from last season, thrilling attacking passing game and a decent defence. Biesla really has a magic touch and I can’t wait to see our true potential when we have that complete, balance mixture. Tomorrow’s game is going to be really tough and if we come through this with three points it will prove Leeds are something very special right now.
    It’s not going to be plain sailing, we will slip up but let’s not have the insults and knee jerk comments from the usual Twatterattis who seem to circle around like vultures


  4. That is a truly staggering statistic Rob
    Is there a league table of pens awarded ?
    I suspect that the likes of Boro are going to be close to the top and clearly we are stuck on -49!


  5. Reality Cheque

    I have to agree with Ken Jarvis Rob, the most bizarre award of a penalty against us was against Boro when Ayling was picked up, thrown to the ground and grabbed his assailants ankle to prevent him stamping on him as he laid on the ground! I was sat right behind the referee’s “assistant” and saw it all clearly but he apparently only saw Ayling grab his assailant’s ankle thereby inviting him to dive theatrically to the ground. Absolute disgrace.
    Thankfully, we now have “a squad” of players who are capable of scoring many more goals solely from “open play” because Bielsa has transformed last season’s squad into much better players virtually overnight.
    I am still pinching myself that these are the same players as last season and lets remember we had already been beaten THREE times after eleven league games last season and were only top of the league for about 8 days after beating bottom team Birmingham. So its glass half full, onwards and upwards with Mr Bielsa at the helm. Happy days indeed Rob despite the match officials collective efforts to discriminate against us. ALAW


  6. Brentford Canary

    Come on be serious…. Leeds have all the backing that Brentford never get. Somebody up there likes you. More live championship games. The papers worship you etc. Stop whining


    • Papers worship us? You jest.


    • Life is LUFC

      Be a Whites supporter for just one match and you’ll fully understand the meaning of the word BIAS….irrational preference or prejudice.
      Of which the match officials of Leeds games lavish in heaps irrational preference to the Leeds opponents and are in love the word prejudice and drown Leeds with lashings of it (to prefix prejudice with irrational in this case case is totally out of context because it is the norm for the match officials to be totally prejudice against Leeds United).


  7. Robert Parr

    Mmmm. Manchester United, the team mentioned on Talksport every 30 seconds!
    They annoy me immensely when they repeatedly call them ‘United’.
    The FA have done more than anyone to stop Leeds from gaining promotion, that is why there is always an air of pessimism.


  8. We should do the unthinkable, learn to dive. We could get Frannie Lee to coach us.


  9. Life is LUFC

    We rest our case again…….another BIAS ref……..IRRATIONAL PREFERRED penalty to Brentford


  10. I agree the ref today had a shocker but Leeds woeful defending deserved to be punished. Watkins was on his way down prior to any contact. It may be a blessing that Ayling is suspended for our next match as today was not his finest 90 mins. BTW as I type this Newcastle have just taken the lead at the ‘flea pit of eternal delusion’. Get in!


  11. Oh the irony of your excellent article Rob in the light of yesterday’s shocker by the ref. You could argue referees make mistakes, it goes with how the game is constructed at present. Without technology like they have in rugby we will have to live with that. Refs will make mistakes but it’s the lack of consistency that irks so much. The sending off was one such irksome inconsistancy.
    On a positive note I have been very impressed how the young players have taken to their first team chance. Also the reorganisation and passion shown after going behind impressed.


  12. I’m also expecting a “unique approach” from the FA regarding the Alioski “dug out gate” and Jansson saying a sweary word situation. Oh well. Third in the table and almost a fortnight to get Roofe, Hernandes and Douglas fit and firing again. Taking 8,000 (eight thousand) fans to “Blackburn Lancashire” next game up. Jack Clarke! What a name for Leeds fans to conjure with! He looks a great prospect. MOT!


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